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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition that occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep. As the body enters a deep state of sleep, the tongue and some of the muscles in the throat may become so relaxed that the airway becomes completely closed off. This almost always is combined with snoring sounds as well.

The Body's Response to Obstructive Sleep Apnea

During an episode of obstructive sleep apnea, oxygen levels in the body may fall while Carbon Dioxide levels in the body rise. The brain will sense these changes and tell our body to become more alert (or slightly less relaxed). As the body becomes more alert, the tongue and muscles in our throat will become less relaxed and allow air to flow in and out of the lungs again.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Drains your Energy

People with obstructive sleep apnea rarely get a good night's sleep. This is due to the fact that every time the body reaches a deep, relaxing state of sleep, the airway becomes occluded (blocked) and the brain tells the body to "wake up". Our bodies need to be able to reach that deep state of sleep in order to restore our energy levels and prepare us for the day ahead. In fact, some people find it hard to stay awake during the day and may fall asleep at work or even waitng in traffic at a red light. Extreme daytime sleepiness is a major sleep apnea symptom.

Dangers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

In addition to extreme daytime sleepiness discussed above, obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to several other health conditions including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, heart failure, and stroke. However, most of the complications and risk factors can be reduced or eliminated with effective treatment.

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